Like countless sports fans, Mitsuaki Ono can pinpoint a formative period in his life that cemented his fandom.

The Kawasaki native was living in Rochester, Minnesota, during the 1989-90 school year because IBM assigned his father, Koji, to work in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

As an 11-year-old at the time, Ono immersed himself in his new surroundings, joining his new school in February. He played linebacker on the junior high team.